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Title: Fire, soil fertility and delayed seed release: a community analysis of the degree of serotiny
Contributor(s): Clarke, Peter J (author); Knox, Kirsten J (author); Butler, Damian (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.1007/s10682-012-9604-0
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Abstract: Delayed seed release (serotiny) is a convergent plant trait in fire-prone regions of the world but explaining the degree of serotiny has remained elusive because of the paucity of community data. Selective forces involving seed predators, fire and soil nutrients have been suggested as factors influencing serotiny. We tested whether protection of seeds and/or synchronized dispersal were associated with different levels of serotiny and if resprouting ability influences selection for strong serotiny. We compared the numbers and abundance of 146 woody species with delayed dispersal among five community types varying in combinations of fire severity, fire frequency, soil fertility and seed predators. The strength of the relationship between levels of serotiny and environmental factors was tested among community types ranging from rainforests to heathlands. Highest levels of serotiny were recorded in low nutrient shrublands with intermediate fire return intervals that burn at high severity, while the lowest were recorded in high nutrient, low flammability forests. Both protection of seeds and synchronized seed release were related to fire effects in nutrient-limited environments. Strong serotiny is prominent in species killed by fire whereas weak serotiny is more common in resprouting species. Recruitment failure in the inter-fire interval appears to drive selection for strong maternal care of seeds and synchronized seed dispersal in fire-prone environments. Weak serotiny is proposed as a bet-hedging strategy that relies on resprouting after fire for population persistence and higher probability of inter-fire recruitment. The spectrum of serotiny (weak to strong) in these communities is proposed to be driven by the interactive effect of both fire and soil nutrients on the selection for delayed seed dispersal.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Evolutionary Ecology, 27(2), p. 429-443
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1573-8477
Field of Research (FOR): 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology)
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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